• Prep Time
    2 hours at least to allow the vinegar to do its magic!
  • Cook Time
    30 minutes
  • Serving
  • View

Ocho Rios, affectionately called ‘Ochi,” by the locals is a town on the northern coast of Jamaica.  It was once a fishing village but now depends on tourism for prosperity. It is a vibrant, colorful place with stunning beaches, also the backdrop for Jamaica Inn one of my favorite places on Earth. This dish is inspired by the method for making fish Escovitch which is “fish rubbed with garlic and allspice, shallow-fried until the skin crisps, then doused with hot vinegar, carrots, onions and wicked Scotch bonnets, all swirled together and bubbling.”  (That description comes from Francine Turone’s recipe on the Fine Cooking web site). Note that allspice berries are not to be eaten whole, and so I opted for allspice in its ground form and I sprinkled the spice sparingly over the peppers and onions as I sautéed them. You want the onions and peppers to have some bite to them when you pour the sauce over the fish (in other words, don’t cook them down until they are soft and caramelized).  Also, the vinegar will mellow a bit and the flavors of the sauce will marry if you let the sauteed onions/peppers sit for a while before serving your fish or in this case your lobster tails.  It occurred to me as I was planning this dish that it had something in common with shrimp and grits, a combination of flavors any New Orleanian is familiar with.  So, I served the lobster tails with the spicy sauce over a mound of cheesy, buttery grits and it was perfect.  Sweet, sour, crunchy & creamy – the mouthfeel and lingering heat of the combined flavors took me right back to Ocho Rios!  Oh, and here’s a picture of me coming out of the water on the beach in Ochi.  Okay, just kidding.  It’s really Ursula Andress in Dr. No (1962) the famous James Bond film made in Ocho Rios.


FEBRUARY 9, 2024 UPDATE:  I went on a local market excursion and had a cooking lesson this morning.  Chef Maurice at Jamaica Inn made a terrific Escovitch with some of the produce he bought at the market, and here’s what I learned:

Rice wine vinegar is what he used

He added a sprinkle of sugar over the vegetables as they sauteed

He stressed that the vegetables should still have a little crunch

He used corn oil to sauté the fish and the vegetables

When he had sauteed the vegetables, he added COLD BUTTER and took the pan off the heat.  He said if the butter is heated too quickly when it is added, it will separate.  The cold butter and slow melt produced a sort of emulsification and made a creamy buttery sauce.


Escovitch Topping

Lobster Tails

Baked creamy grits


    Make the sauce first and let it sit at room temp for a few hours if possible.

    Step 1

    Sauté the onions, bell peppers and hot peppers in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes. Add the thyme and sprinkle the allspice over the vegetables. Add the garlic. Add the vinegar and a little water if necessary. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature.

    Step 2

    Make the grits on stove top in a saucepan according to the instructions. Add butter and parmesan cheese and a little more "melty" cheese according to taste. Add one or two beaten eggs, and top with more melty cheese. This should go in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Step 3

    Roast the lobster tails according to the recipe on this site.

    Step 4

    Plate the dish: Grits, then lobster tails and then the sauce on top! You could guild the lilly with a little mango salsa if you have it!

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